Laura Tillman: Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Laura Tillman

Award-Winning Journalist & Author of The Long Shadows of Small Ghosts

Exclusive Representation by Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Laura Tillman is an author and journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Pacific Standard, among other publications. Originally from Maplewood, NJ, she began her career as a staff reporter at The Brownsville Herald. There, she began work on The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts: Murder and Memory in an American City, which was published by Scribner in 2016. Laura has received fellowships from the Columbia School of Journalism and The Nation Institute, as well as national awards for her magazine reporting. She holds a BA in International Studies from Vassar College, and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. She lives in Mexico City.

The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts is a meditation on the long-term effect of crime on communities and the role of the bystander. In 2003, in Brownsville, TX, one of the nation's poorest cities, a young couple killed their three small children. Instead of focusing on the crime itself, Tillman examined the historical, social, cultural and economic context, allowing her to voice the most difficult questions that such mind-bending tragedies raise.

Tillman came to the story as a young journalist trying to understand an unfamiliar city. Brownsville was debating whether the site of the crime should be demolished, and the father of the children waited to die on Texas' death row. While the crime occurred in Brownsville, its implications stretch far beyond. Communities everywhere battle with the aftermath of tragedy, and must reckon with the root causes of crime if they wish to move forward in the spirit of prevention. From Newtown, CT to Cleveland, OH demolishing sites of crime has become a tangible way of seeking closure. Brownsville's extended debate about what to do with the site of this crime and its creative solution leaves readers with a message of hope and renewal.

Through its multiple approaches and first person perspective, The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts is a love letter to journalism, a portrait of the modern American death penalty, and an examination of how history is written and by whom. As a speaker, Tillman crafts this message for her audience, whether they are students in search of their story, or social justice, religious or business groups trying to improve lives in their communities.


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  • The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts: How the Memory of a Murder Shaped One City
  • Finding Your Story & Becoming a Journalist
  • Judaism in the American Landscape
  • The Changing American Death Penalty


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